Y, marilyn unstitched
nytheatre.com review by Michael Criscuolo
February 25, 2009
Late in Y, marilyn unstitched, Irene Glezos and Brad Calcaterra's new solo play about Marilyn Monroe, the legendary movie star makes a frank admission about the show to the audience: "I had a dream last night that all of you, the audience, didn't get it." Count me among the confused. While Y seems like a sincere enough attempt to investigate the enigma that was Marilyn Monroe (it is billed, after all, as "a psychic autopsy"), it eventually trips over itself trying to introduce a gaggle of characters without giving any indication of who they are. It's almost as if the play assumes the audience already knows enough about Monroe that they won't need to be told much. A reasonable assumption considered Monroe is one of the most documented Hollywood icons who ever lived. But, in this case, a little more exposition would be helpful.
Co-creator Glezos plays the blonde bombshell herself, and is admirably committed. Legs crossed perfectly and perched atop a barstool, holding a martini glass and wearing only undergarments, for the show's 70-minute duration, Glezos shows considerable chops and courage, jumping back and forth between Monroe and the play's many other characters with lightning-fast precision. Each role is specifically delineated and shows Glezos's impressive range as an actor. But, oh, if we only knew who each of them was! Glezos and director Calcaterra ratchet the tempo of the piece up to such dizzying speeds in places that after a while Y just becomes a relentless onslaught of unknown personalities. Imagine cinema verité-style editing, without garnish or explanation, done live in front of you, and you'll have an idea of what I'm talking about.
A larger concern is what exactly Y is supposed to be about. It takes on the trappings of a murder mystery at the outset (based on the conceit that Monroe's death wasn't a suicide after all), but that plan quickly unravels as Y loses its thematic footing amongst a torrent of well-known facts about Monroe. No new information is revealed, and before long one may be forgiven if they start thinking about what they're giving the show (i.e., a lot of attention) in comparison to what the show is giving them (i.e., very little). In that sense, Y is a bit self-indulgent.
Glezos is a talented performer, no doubt, but Y, marilyn unstitched won't be a proper showcase vehicle for her until it goes back to the shop for a significant tune-up.